Forgive my lateness, I didn't end up watching this week's SoA when it aired live (first time for that this year!) and couldn't get to it until today.
To begin at the beginning, I didn't love this episode. It was, I thought, the most uneven episode of this season. And the preview for what is going to happen in then next episode has me scratching my head. Sons of Anarchy already had a mistaken-identity-wrong-place-wrong-time-too-late-to-call-off-the-hit story arc. That can't really be what is going to happen again, can it?
But there is no use guessing about that--we'll see next week. Let's focus on this week. My gripe with the episode was mostly about pacing. I just never felt like it hit its groove. Although some of the individual scenes were spectacular (which I'll say more about in a minute), the transitions didn't work very well for me. These are fairly minor complaints, and they're things I likely wouldn't have even noticed in a show that wasn't having such a completely phenomenal season.
So on to the good. And Theo Rossi's Juice is very, very good. He's been getting better and better all season, but this week's scene, in which he attacks Roosevelt after he gets a glimpse at the RICO war room and realizes just how deep in he, and the Club, are, was absolutely stellar. In the first three seasons, I underestimated both Juice as a character and Rossi as an actor. There is way more there than I thought. My fear, though, is now that I love them both, this his going to be Juice's last season.
This week's episode was also a really good one for Gemma. For me, Gemma was the initial draw of the show, and that hasn't changed, but she's played a bit of a secondary role to a lot of the other action this season. Not so this week. The early scene between her and Unser was so powerful--watching Gemma cycle through fear and sadness and resignation and manipulation so quickly, it would come off as cluttered or unrealistic if it weren't so damn well-written and well-acted. The kiss at the end of the scene, once Unser has agreed to do what Gemma asks, against his better judgement, yet again, was perfect. I may have been blind, but I didn't realize until this season what the nature of Unser's feelings for Gemma are, and his role makes so much sense now that it's clear that he's in love with her, and that she knows it, and uses it.
I also really dug the juxtaposition of Gemma's scene with Unser and Gemma's scene with Clay. I am not completely sure how much Gemma trusts Clay, or how much of what she says to him is true. At this point, of course, I want it to be lies--I want Gemma to be aware of what Clay is doing, and to stop him. But I don't think that's the course that is being laid out, and it makes the part of her feelings for him which appears to be real so much more heartbreaking (the thing about him being the only truth she can find made me want to cry). At any rate, the whole thing left me wondering how much it takes to turn Gemma against Clay. She seemed to shake Piney's murder off so easily, maybe she could live with Tara's as well?
But Jax couldn't. I started to like Jax again in this episode, just a little bit. He showed real backbone in the confrontation with Galindo's guys and LeRoy's crew, and for one of the first times this season he acted like he gave a damn about anybody but himself. The discussion between Jax and Bobby, wherein Bobby wisely points out that Jax is never going to be able to live outside the Club, was a great little scene. Later, though, Jax returned to completely irritating me. His "I'm out, babe," conversation with Tara was so completely transparent that Abel could have seen through it, and I just don't buy that level of self-deception from either of them, being as both characters are supposed to be bright. They make me anxious for them, even though I can't see a way they won't both survive.
I read something recently about how this season will basically burn the Club to the ground, and then in Season 5 it will have to begin to rebuild. I've been wondering what that means. Obviously, Sutter has decided to do a lot of things now that many show creators wouldn't dream of before their final year. This isn't his final year, though, so he must have a plan. I've tried to think of other shows that have done something similar, basically ending and re-starting midway through, but I'm coming up blank. Anybody have an example?